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Oxford United 3 Rovers 0

12 October 2019

Rovers had a frustrating day as they fell to defeat at Oxford United.

Rovers boss Darren Moore handed striker Kwame Thomas his first league start for the club following his competitive debut in midweek, and a promising start saw Brad Halliday whip the ball into the area inside the opening minute.
The opening period of the game was cagey, with both sides evenly matched and having to remain patient.
Seny Dieng was first called into action after 18 minutes, though Jamie Mackie’s shot following a free-kick delivery was straight at him and routine for the on-loan Queens Park Rangers man to hold.
Rovers enjoyed some good possession down the wings but failed to convert good crosses from James Coppinger, Brad Halliday and Reece James. The best chance of the half from a Rovers viewpoint saw Kieran Sadlier fire over after getting on the end of a Halliday delivery.
The home side came into the game as the half progressed, with James Henry and the impressive Cameron Brannagan both sending efforts wide before Tarique Fosu clipped an effort of the outside of the far post from inside the area.
A vital interception from a home defender nicked the ball off the feet of Jon Taylor as he was about to get a shot away but, just as it looked like going into the break goaless, the home side took the lead.
Henry tried a shot from distance in the second of four minutes time added on before the break, and the ball deflected off defender Donervon Daniels to leave Dieng with no chance.
That goal was a blow to Rovers, it changed the half-time team-talk from Moore and despite fashioning a couple of early chances in the opening exchanges of the second period a decisive second strike from Oxford  just two minutes after the restart from the impressive Brannagan put them in control.
Rovers pushed to find a way back into the game and their best opportunity of the match came after 51 minutes. 
Good play down the left led to James crossing for Thomas - who had worked himself into space - but it took a vital last-gasp interception from John Mousinho to steer the ball over the bar and deny Thomas his first senior strike for the club.
As the game passed the hour mark it became clear the home side were not going to take any risks, with Tosu trying two shots from free-kicks which provided little danger as the declined to send players into the box and instead nullified the risk of a counter-attack.
Niall Ennis made his return from a hamstring injury, replacing Thomas, and he fired just wide moments after coming on.
Rovers continued to push for a way back into the game, with Coppinger finding Ennis who in turn laid the ball off for Sadlier - only for his effort to go over.
Any hopes of a comeback were extinguished after 74 minutes when Tom Anderson was judged to have handled the ball in the area, and Henry stepped up to convert the spot-kick.

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